I'm on a development team with a total of five developers. The owner of my company quite often tells all of us to drop everything we're doing and focus on one singular task. The problem with that is that a lot of the tasks he wants us all to work on do not lend themselves to concurrent development.
My question is... how can I get the owner to stop doing this?
A few thoughts:
- If everyone is trying to collaborate on the same exact problem there could very well wind up being "too many cooks in the kitchen". The book The Mythical Man-Month elaborates on this further.
- It has a chilling effect on after hours contributions. When the owner isn't like this I'll usually work on tasks that interest me in the evening or on the weekends. But when the owner gets like this I don't work on anything other than what the owner wants me to work on. So instead of getting 60h out of me he winds up getting exactly 40h and that's it. I suppose that's not really my problem but if I owned a company I'd want to encourage people to do this - not discourage it.
- The owners wishes that we all assist notwithstanding the reality is that not everyone is going to be able to make meaningful contributions so what are such people supposed to do in the meantime? Just twiddle their thumbs and hope that the owner doesn't come around and ask them for the specifics of what they're working on? Working on other stuff is liable to get you in trouble when you've been told explicitly not to work on other stuff so that doesn't seem like a viable solution.
I suppose I could send the owner an email with the concerns I've mentioned above (are there other problems I'm not thinking of with this "all hands on deck" approach?) but who knows how he'd respond to that. Maybe a more passive aggressive way to deal with the situation is to get him "The Mythical Man-Month" as present for Christmas. Initially, he might see it as brown nosing and, who knows, he might not ever read the book, but I guess that's the risk you take when you act in a passive aggressive manner..